|Mobiles phones are your main method of communication with the outside world when you live on a barge. It is usually your only telephone, although we are aware that some barge owners in France have persuaded the phone company to provide a land line to their winter mooring. You use it for daily communication and for connection with the internet.|
The main problem with mobile phones are the companies that provide the service. They are inconsistent, charge like wounded bulls and work the international boundaries to their advantage. At our winter mooring on the Dutch/Belgian border you could sometimes pick up the Dutch or Belgian system so it could cost you twice as much if you have the wrong SIMM card in your handset as well as an additional cost for receiving a call.
When we entered a new country we used to buy a SIMM card for that country but we now have a "Smile" account with Proximus in Belgium which uses the Vodaphone network. They also provides us an internet connection and offer a service in English so you can understand most of the messages they send you! The latest cheapest deal for the internet is a €1 per day connection charge then a maximum data download of 1gb in Belgium. Outside Belgium you have to pay a one off roaming connection charge when you leave Belgium of €25 then you have the same deal except that your free data is restricted to only 50mb then you pay big time for extra data. It's just about enough to download your emails, check the bank once a month or make your ferry bookings back to the UK!
With Proximus we pay an additional monthly charge of €2.50 for a special European deal. Whatever country we are in, so long as we use the Vodafone network, calls to and from another number in the same country are charged at the local rate plus 99 Eurocents connection charge.
Trying to get an account with a French telecoms company is difficult. They all require you to have a French bank account with a French address on your cheque book. This can be arranged by using a co-operative Capitainerie address.